Situated on the corner of Libbie and Grove lies a burger lover’s heaven. Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint is a small chain restaurant whose menu consists of three items: burgers, beer, and fried Oreos. Jack Brown’s Richmond location opened in March of 2015. The chain also has eight other locations in Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama.
After only one step into Jack Brown’s, it is easy to see that it is a truly eclectic establishment. Caroline Ritter (’17) describes it as, “…quite the spunky sight.” From the antelope outfitted in a scuba diving mask mounted on the wall, to the disco ball laced with assorted clothing items, it is like nothing I have ever seen before. Each table is surrounded by multi-colored bar stools that are spotted with various bumper stickers. To complete the bar-like ambiance, classic rock plays faintly in the background while live sports command the television screens.
Jack Brown’s is a very busy place with very limited seating options. Because of this, expect a 10-15 minute wait for a table. However, this is not necessarily such a dreadful thing. The hostess will record a restaurant-goer’s phone number and send a text when their table is ready, which provides an opportunity to step outside and explore the quaint shops that encompass the Libbie and Grove area. Shops such as Nellie George, Paper Plus, and Wardrobe are all within walking distance.
Even though the menu is limited to burgers, there is a burger for just about everyone. Jack Brown’s serves burgers as plain as cheeseburgers and as adventurous as burgers topped with peanut butter, mayo, applewood smoked bacon, and cheese. Each burger is accompanied by Jack Brown’s special sauce. I asked what exactly was in the sauce, but it is apparently confidential. Nevertheless, it tastes wonderful. All of the burgers at Jack Brown’s are made from American Kobe beef, and the quality of the meat is apparent in the flavor and juiciness of each burger. In order to complete the Jack Brown’s burger experience, I encourage adding an order of french fries or sweet potato fries for an additional charge. Lastly, be sure to save some room for one of Jack Browns delicious, but not so healthy fried Oreos.
I had the chance to try two burgers: the Greg Brady and the Cowboy. The Greg Brady is topped with homemade mac n’ cheese and Martin’s BBQ potato chips. I had mixed feelings about this burger when I ordered it, but I was pleasantly surprised. The contrast between the smoothness of the mac n’ cheese and the crunchiness of the barbecue chips created an interesting, yet satisfying combination. The french fries were warm and possessed an addictive quality that made actually getting to my burger difficult. I recommend dipping your french fries in the special sauce. Rating: 5/5 burger emojis.
The Cowboy is a burger topped with barbecue sauce, applewood smoked bacon, and cheddar cheese. The burger itself was cooked to perfection. The bacon added the ideal amount of texture and paired nicely with the melted cheddar cheese. The sweet potato fries were decent but nothing extraordinary, and they did not mix well with the special sauce. Rating: 4/5 burger emojis.
To finish off my meal I, of course, had to order a fried Oreo. The extremely American fried Oreo was ironically delivered in a Chinese food take out box. The taste of a Jack Brown’s fried Oreo is completely ineffable. It was covered in a generous coating of sweet powdered sugar. The exterior was warm and soft, and the Oreo’s interior was rich and gooey. In Betsy Cook’s review of Jack Brown’s in the Roanoke Times she describes the Oreos as, “not too sweet, not at all greasy, and one was just the right amount to satisfy a sweet tooth.” In conclusion, eating this fried Oreo is a life-changing experience. Rating: This Oreo shattered my scale.
What Jack Brown’s lacks in space it makes up for in taste. Each time I have visited, I have never had a disappointing burger. While Jack Brown’s burgers may be more expensive than fast food chain burgers, the price is not outrageous. My total bill for a soda, Greg Brady, french fries, and a fried Oreo came to about $11. To compare Jack Brown’s prices to other Richmond area burger joints, I suggest taking a look at Dalton Ruh’s (’16) advice regarding local burgers. Sure, there are heftier and cheaper burgers in the Richmond area, but the quality of ingredients, skillful preparation, and enthralling atmosphere elevate Jack Brown’s burgers above its competitors.
All photos by Kate Kinder.